November 11, 2012

Author Interview: Emma Trevayne

One day on Twitter I found a new author to follow.

Coda by Emma Trevayne
May, 2013
Running Press Kids
She was mentioned by another author, and honestly, I followed her because her avatar was a pinky-purple unicorn that made me think of My Little Ponies, and it made me laugh.

Since then, I've found Emma Trevayne, author of the upcoming YA cyperpunk novel, Coda, to be funny, and friendly...and the girl's got killer taste in music.

(True story: it was Emma who told me that Mumford & Sons (one of my fave recent bands) had covered The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel (one of my all-time fave songs). Had I not followed her, I might still be in the dark!)

I'm very happy to introduce y'all to her today, and hope you'll check out Coda when it releases in May of 2013.


LR: I just saw that CODA is available for pre-order on Amazon, even though it’s not coming out until May, 2013. That has to feel pretty cool, to already see the space for your book.  What did you do the first time you saw it?

ET: I think in layman's terms it's called a “heart attack”? Seriously, I actually think I tweeted something like, “Uh, hold up a hot second, since when is Coda available on Amazon?” And then I giddily emailed my editor and agent.

LR: Tell us a little about Anthem, who’s got the coolest name ever, by the way.  What can you tell us about him that we can’t read in the synopsis on Amazon?

ET: Ooh, good question. I can tell you the first piece of music he ever heard was Ravel's Bolero. That's not even in the book—exclusive right here, folks. Like all the other “named” characters in Coda, he chose the name himself. Something like an online handle. But at the time, he didn't really grasp the enormity of the word. He's good at sewing, wears a lot of guyliner, and stomps around in some pretty lethal-looking boots. He balances a lot of complex relationships—with his father, younger siblings, ex-boyfriend/best friend, and the girl he's desperately in love with—and isn't always successful at it.

LR: Where’d he come from? Was he a dream? Or a waking idea that wouldn’t let go?

ET: This would depend on your definition of “awake.” I was really sick with the flu when I first had the idea for Coda, so my eyes were open but what with all the NyQuil I'm not sure how lucid I was. The hook came first—music as a drug—and Anthem followed moments later. I had a very clear picture of him in my head very quickly. This character on a dance floor, blond-haired and blue-eyed, dressed in black and steel that caught the whirling neon lights, high on the music itself.

LR: Can you talk a little about your journey to becoming a writer? Was it something you always did, or something you decided to try out on a whim?

ET: I've always loved writing, ever since I was a kid. (I think this is true for a lot of authors.) I started to get fairly serious about it several years ago, and have a huge chunk of a Middle Grade manuscript from that time that I will one day finish and turn into something coherent. Coda, though, was almost a whim, a strange idea that distracted me from that other manuscript, held on to my brain with vicious claws, and filled me with a sense that maybe this was something. I knew really early that I'd finish and query with it—thoughts which hadn't consumed me with any other project.

LR: When writing, are you an outliner, or a seat-of-your-pantser?

ET: I've learned recently that, for me, this depends on the book. Coda was pantsed all the way. (Basically. I knew a few key events and the ending.) The book I've just finished, which is a return to Middle Grade, didn't work until I plotted it fairly carefully.

LR: Ok, so…childhood favorites question: was there any particular book character on whom you had a crush when you were a kid? (Calvin O’Keefe from A Wrinke in Time is totally mine – you can’t steal him!!!)

ET: Gilbert Blythe. I think I probably had a lot of competition for him. (LR: Me too! I loved him!!) 

LR: All-time favorite movie?

ET: Dead Poets Society.

LR: All-time favorite book?

ET: This changes depending on when you ask. Right now, I'm thinking The Mists of Avalon. I've read a few books from this year that might be contenders, though.

LR: I know you love music – that’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed following you on Twitter so much. Many times, you’ll tweet about a band that’s just been on my own playlist for a bit. And CODA has a lot of musical themes going on within.  Was there any one particular band or album you listened to while writing? Do you feel like it influenced the story?

ET: I listen to music all the time while I'm writing; I can't write without it. A lot of bands either inspired Coda indirectly by just fostering my love of music, or were particularly fitting for specific scenes/moods in the book. Every chapter has at least one “theme song” and I'll share the whole soundtrack at some point. Some of those bands are important enough to me and the book that I thanked them in the acknowledgments, but I'm not sure I'd say they influenced the story. More that when I arrived at the scene in question and knew what I wanted to say, I then knew what song had to go with it. At that point I'd listen to it over and over while I wrote, trying to capture that feeling as well as the song did. Maybe one song drove the story in a small way, but as it's the one for the final chapter, I can't say what it is. Also I didn't need to think about what the first song was, since Anthem decided it for me.

The Prodigy's Voodoo People had a lot to do with coming up with the idea. When Anthem took up residence in my head, he was on a dance floor and the song playing was Animal Collective's In the Flowers, which contains this one breathtaking, indescribable moment. (This is the song for the first chapter.) Several Cure songs, especially from their Wild Mood Swings album, were played on repeat. Hospice, an album by The Antlers, goes on an endless loop a lot because I can always write to it, no matter what I'm working on. Less because of its subject matter, I think, than because it constantly reminds me to try to craft beautiful things.

It says something that this was my longest answer, doesn't it?
LR: And then…all-time favorite album?

ET: Oh, man. I can't. If I had a week and a half in a dark room to do nothing but think, there's a small chance I could narrow it down to about thirty.

LR: Is there any interview question you’ve been hoping to be asked, but haven’t yet? If so, feel free to answer it here and now.

ET: Well, this is the first interview I've done since I got to hold advance copies, so I'll pretend you asked what that was like. Coolest. Moment. Ever. I grinned and shook with nerves and danced around. The “Dear Reader” letter my editor wrote in the beginning made me cry. So it was all very emotional. I'm insanely grateful to everyone who helped me get here.

Thanks so much for having me, Leah!


Nope. Thank YOU, Emma, for dropping by! 

If you'd like to know more about Emma, check out her twitter account and web site.


Jen said...

Gilbert Blythe! <3

Heidi Schulz said...

Lovely interview. Can't wait for CODA. Also: I would crack a slate over Gilbert's head any day.

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